§ 2. Sir K. WOOD
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs if he can state the matters he has now discussed with the Soviet Ambassador other than those arising out of the proposed treaty?
Mr. A. HENDERSON
I would refer the right hon. Gentleman to the answer which I gave to a practically identical question by him on the 24th of March.
§ Sir K. WOOD
Has the right hon. Gentleman raised the question of religious persecution in Russia with the Ambassador?
§ Mr. MARJORIBANKS
Has the right hon. Gentleman raised the question of the renewal of permits to those citizens who have been ordered to return to Russia?
15. Lieut.-Colonel Sir FREDERICK HALL
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has negotiated with the Soviet representative the draft terms of a trade treaty with Russia; what is the present position of the matter; when it is expected that the treaty will be placed before Parliament for consideration; and if he can now indicate to what extent it deals with the question of the recognition of the loans to Russia which have been repudiated by the present Russian Government and the restitution of the property of British nationals which has been confiscated?
For answers to the first three points of his question, I would refer the hon. and gallant Member to the reply returned yesterday to the hon. Member for Wimbledon (Sir J. Power) by my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade. As I informed the hon. Member for Gainsborough (Captain Crookshank) yesterday, negotiations for a commercial treaty with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics are in progress. I cannot yet indicate any date for their submission to this House. Negotiations for a settlement of debts, claims and counter-claims are proceeding concurrently.
Sir F. HALL
May we take it that these negotiations will not be completed until this House has had an opportunity of seeing the proposed trade treaty?
No, the hon. and gallant Member must not conclude anything of the kind. A commercial treaty as a modus vivendi is already in operation, and we are continuing the negotiations for a commercial treaty. That treaty will, when set up, be laid as a Command Paper, and will be subject to debate before ratification.
Sir F. HALL
In the special circumstances of the case, does not the right hon. Gentleman think it advisable, in the interests of all parties, that the matter should be discussed before any agreement is absolutely concluded? What is the objection to doing that?
It is the responsibility of the Government, having regard to a decision which the House has already given, to get into trade relations as expeditiously and, I hope, as effectively as possible, and, if we are to have two or three Debates, we shall not get on with the business as the country would expect us to do.
§ Mr. SMITHERS
In view of the declared policy of the Government that negotiations for the treaty and negotiations for debt settlement should run concurrently, is it the policy of the Government that the signing of the commercial treaty and the signing of the debt settlement should be simultaneous?
The negotiations, as I told the House yesterday, are going on concurrently, and we will do everything to conclude them concurrently. Whether we can hold up the signing and ratification of the commercial treaty until the whole business has been completed is a matter which the Government will have to take the responsibility of deciding.